JAPAN'S RISING CORNET STAR - Chiaki Hirata talks to British Bandsman in an exclusive video interview

Issue 5974

THE UNFINISHED SYMPHONY: A CENTENARY CELEBRATION - Celebrating 100 years of Tullis Russell Mills Band

 GEARING UP FOR GATESHEAD - Extensive preview of the 42nd Brass in Concert Championships

Welsh Regional Championships - 3rd Section LIVE!

Saturday 17 March, 2018

3rd Section

Test-piece: Napoleon on the Alps (Philip Harper)

Saturday 17 March

Draw: 9.00am (commences 10.00am)

Adjudicators: Mark Wilkinson and Glyn Williams

Paul Hindmarsh reporting


Good morning from the Brangwyn Hall. A biting, icy wind is scurrying across the beach over the road, but it's warming up nicely inside this lovely hall, where we are looking forward to some close competition. That said, it's alpine scenes that the eight bands in this section have to content with musically speaking, but some heroism too in Philip Harper's evocative test-piece, which requires alot of presices detailed playing.

In the end only two bands, for us, got consistantly close to the score, with Taff Vale (sporting many former M 2 players) sounding like a 2nd Section band. The real results will follow shortly.

Full result

1. Taff Vale Brass (Gareth Ritter)*

2. Usk (James Jones)*

3. Newtown Silver (Steve Edwards)

4. Briton Ferry (Jeff Pearce)

5. Ynyshir (Gary Davies)

6. Severn Tunnel (Daniel Hall)

7. RAF St. Athan Voluntary (Alan Bourne)

8. Ogmore Valley Silver (Alice Jones)

Best Intrumentalist: Duncan Broadley (solo cornet, Taff Vale)

*qualifying for finals

In the BB Frame

1. Taff Vale Brass (Gareth Ritter)

2. Usk (James Jones)

3. Newtown Silver (Steve Edwards)

4. Briton Ferry (Jeff Pearce)

 

 

 

 

8. RAF St. Athan Voluntary (Alan Bourne)

A hushed start, with some rather approximate ensemble work until everyone is playing in the martial tutti. The solo cornet bridge resonates into the hall beautifully. However, the tuning at the opening of the second movement leaves lot to be desired. Solo cornet, horn and soprano come across well in their little solos, but the band is not together at important moments in the finale. Some players rush quaver detail and percussion is not always with the band. The band makes a fine overall sound at the end, but a ot of small details were lost.

7. Ynyshir (Gary Davies)

The basses are strong and stylish at the start, but there are technical and balance issues throughout the movement for this predominantly youthful band. The chord sequence is one of the better ones of the section.

The solo horn plays well in the opening of the slow movement, but there are many small details in the ensemble that do not come over in tutti and solo passages. The band’s young soloists will have learned a great deal from playing this challenging movement on the Brangwyn Hall stage.

In the finale, the march theme from the cornets is as clean as a whistle, while the stabbing chords could do with poking through a bit more. Again – a strong finish.

6. Newtown Silver (Steve Edwards)

The muted cornets at the start come over strongly in at the start of Newtown’s performance, although the ensemble is rather approximate in the lyrical episode. Things are more coordinated in the following episode and the climactic chord sequence packs a powerful punch. The ‘give and take’ phrases at the start of the second movement works well and the horn melody is one of the more effective of the session – balancing well with the solo cornets – nice job! It’s appropriately thoughtful if not 100% in tune. The soloists project well, especially soprano cornet (lovely pure sound). Terrific climax which is released with a controlled diminuendo, nicely done. Solo cornet makes a fine job of his fanfare cadenza setting the tone for a menacing finale opening, so much sharper than the opening of the piece. The contrapuntal section is not as effective as the fanfare chords and the band is beginning to overblow a little – but it’s exciting. Another effective finish to an inconsistent but hardworking performance.

5. Ogmore Valley Silver (Alice Jones)

A clean if steady start, lacking some forward momentum. The band sounds nervous in the quiet music, but a little more sure-footed in tutti section. It could do with being a bit quicker overall and sharper in articulation. The bottom end of the band sounds really well in the chord sequences as does the cornet soloist in the bridge passage to the slow movement.

Alice Jones keeps the music flowing well in the second movement, which sits more comfortably on the band – a warmly resonant climax and excellent solo cornet cadenza.  It’s a shame that the small details and tuning are not the same level. The march is neatly done – could be crisper in articulation. All bands are presenting well at the end of the piece and this is no different – an exciting finish. 

4. Usk (James Jones)

Terrific start from the Usk players – quiet but full of intent and underlying threat. The cornets present Harper’s ‘circular’ second subject theme with a clean, confident line. I like the determined pulse of the rhythm in the tutti section which follows. The powerful chord sequence at the climax isn’t quite in tune, but the phrasing at the start of the second movement is spot on! James Jones keeps the melody flowing and the band sounds confident in negotiating the interweaving phrases. Lovely solo horn and euphonium in the solo sequence – the recessed dynamic that follows is nicely balanced and grows well to the full noble reprise – hits just the right speed and style – not overdone. Band and conductor handle the ending well, leaving plenty of room for an exemplary solo cornet cadenza.

The quiet menace of the opening of the finale is also handled well and there is plenty of dynamic range and colour in the martial theme that follows – percussion in the picture but not covering 

3. Briton Ferry (Jeff Pearce)

 Quiet playing of martial music can be a problem to project and here Briton Ferry musicians fall into that trap – the music sounds a bit undernourished until the tutti statement, and even then it could do with a bit more poke in the articulation and precision in rhythmic aspects. The ‘Cloudcatcher’ chords are strong, and the opening of the second movement sounds lovely – well blended chords in hymn tune style. The soloists quit themselves well in their little exposed snippets and the tutti reprise is appropriately stirring – if not quite in tune. The cornet chords before the fanfare cadenza are not in balance and the third movement sets off to rather a tentative start. The fugato style martial theme comes across well, but could be a beat neater as could the passages which follow – some rough edges in an overall robust account, which ends with some of the best playing in the performance.

2. Taff Vale Brass (Gareth Ritter)

A quietly determined start here, with percussion colour well in the picture. The second theme, which turns in on itself in a very clever way, is well played right through the band – as smooth as you like – and leads to a robust, powerful march, with the ‘Cloudcatcher Fells’ like chords filling the hall – wow!

Lovely pure line from the solo cornet as he bridges into a sensitive opening of the slow movement – chords are well defined and contrasted. The intonation isn’t 100% consistent but the music ‘feels’ right. Neat work by all the band’s soloists in the middle – well matched – and the ‘Eroica’ climax has all the nobility you could wish for, and there is more power still as the movement winds own – just a hint of overblowing. The cornet cadenza is secure, poised, stylish with great tone!

The fugato like theme in the finale isn’t too fast, but clean and rhythmically alive – well done – and the sound keeps building with confidence and security. This is a well prepared and executed reading from this ‘new’ band. Timp and drums do get a bit over-excited! What a brilliant finish - super sounds form the soprano and cornets in particular. This will take some beating!

1. Severn Tunnel (Daniel Hall)

 There are a few smudges in the bass tread at the start and some iffy tuning in the trombone chords, but the chords tighten up once the sound grows. The detail in the tutti climax is clear and neatly done. The second movement, a portrait of Napoleon himself, opens in rather pensive mood, with staccato chords well placed. Musically, the young conductor keeps things flowing towards a stirring climax, and where appropriate time is taken to place the heroic chords. The cornets struggle to sustain the rising phrases and keep them in tune. The ending is far from secure across the band.
Well done solo cornet, for the trumpet-like sounds in your cadenza – stylish. The ‘Pines of Rome’ bass patterns are much more secure at the opening of the finale and the ‘633 Squadron’ syncopated chords poke through well. A musically delivered, if not technically consistent performance which ends really well.

Draw

1. Severn Tunnel (Daniel Hall)

2. Taff Vale Brass (Gareth Ritter)

3. Briton Ferry (Jeff Pearce)

4. Usk (James Jones)

5. Ogmore Valley Silver (Alice Jones)

6. Newtown Silver (Steve Edwards)

7. Ynyshir (Gary Davies)

8. RAF St. Athan Voluntary (Alan Bourne)